All you need to know about slow cookers

All you need to know about slow cookers

In recent years slow cookers have emerged as one of the most versatile, and easy-to-use, kitchen appliances, in this article we will go through all you need to know about slow cookers and how you can create tasty and healthy meals for you and your family to enjoy.

How do slow cookers work?

Slow cookers consist of multiple parts including a base that contains a heat source through the use of a heating element, the vessel which is where the food is cooked, and the vessel of a slow cooker is usually made of stoneware that keeps the heat constant and at an even temperature, and a glass lid.

Food that is cooked in a slow cooker cooks similarly to how food is cooked in a Dutch oven, the difference being that in a slow cooker, the heat begins at the base of the slow cooker and up the sides of the vessel which cooks the food.

The steam that is generated from the heat within the slow cooker creates a vacuum seal with the lid. The low consistent temperature help to retain the moisture that is usually lost with other cooking processes, so the liquid does not evaporate or become too concentrated.

Benefits of a slow cooker

Slow cooker chicken

Energy efficient

Slow cookers tend to be low-wattage appliances that use much less electricity when compared with convection ovens and other kitchen appliances. For this reason, slow cookers are a great addition to your home that you can leave running for hours on end without being shocked when you see your electricity bill!

Tastes great

Slow cookers can help you turn low-quality cuts of meat into restaurant-quality meals. Using a slow cooker can make meat more tender and taste much better, so you can cook great-tasting meals on a minimal budget.

More convenient

Slow cookers are great if you're busy and don't have time to spend hours every day in the kitchen even if you wanted to! Slow cooking is the best method of cooking when you want to just set and forget your food and it will slowly cook you a delicious meal whilst you can use the hours you save to get on with other tasks or relax. Slow cooking is also a very simple cooking process that allows you to prep ingredients and simply add them to the slow cooker when you want to start cooking.

Healthier options

Slow cookers are great for cooking healthier meals as you can poach, braise and cook in water and add spices and aromatics where needed.

How to use a slow cooker


Start by placing your solid foods in the slow cooker, followed by the liquid you are using. It is important that you fill your slow cooker at least two-thirds of the way to ensure it operates correctly.


Most slow cookers come with two main settings, high and low. Some slow cookers have settings such as keep warm, Soup mode, steam, and braise and keep warm which is great for when you have guests around. What setting you use will greatly depend on multiple factors, including what model of slow cooker you have, what recipe you are cooking, and how fast you want your meal dish to cook.


Each slow cooker recipe will take a different amount of time. There is a multitude of factors such as temperature, the type and thickness of the meat and how much liquid is in the slow cooker that can affect the amount of time it takes to cook a dish. On average the low setting takes double the length of time it takes on the high setting to cook. It's always advisable to give yourself a bit of extra time to cook just in case your food is not fully cooked.

Slow cooker tips

Leave the lid alone

Whatever you do, don't be tempted to open the lid every 10 minutes, I get it, it's tempting to check on the progress of your food and to get a smell of all the spices but it affects the cooking process! As explained earlier, a secured lid helps steam generate which creates a heat seal, so every time you take the lid off you are breaking the head sell and losing moisture which can add up to 20 minutes to the cooking time! Do not peek unless instructed to.

Always use a thermometer

It is very important you use a thermometer to check if the meat in your dishes is done, to ensure it is safe to eat, if you do not know what temperatures are safe, check this out. If you do not have a kitchen thermometer, it is advisable to let your food cook for a little longer than the recipe says to ensure it is safe.

Meat thermometer in chicken

Always be safe

To ensure your food stays safe to eat, it's important to remove the contents of the slow cooker within an hour once fully cooked and then refrigerate. Do not reheat food in your slow cooker, it is advisable to heat your food on the stove or in the microwave before placing it back in the slow cooker.

How to prepare foods when using a slow cooker 


If the meat you are cooking is heavier than 1.5kg, cut it in half before cooking so it cooks evenly. Trim any excess fat as fat retains heat which can cause overcooking. Browning meats such as large beef roasts can add colour, and texture, and increases flavour to meat, this is optional but it's well worth it!

Fish and Seafood:

Adding ingredients such as prawns and mussels should be done at the very end of cooking as these cook extremely fast and can be easily overcooked if not monitored.


Tough root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes can take longer to cook than some meats, so cut them into small, even size pieces, and place them on the bottom of the slow cooker, with the meat on top.

More delicate vegetables such as courgette, spinach, peas, sweetcorn, kale, and fresh tomatoes should be added in the last 20 to 60 minutes of the cooking process to ensure they don't overcook and break down.


The best kind of beans for a slow cooker is canned beans, it is advisable to add them during the last 30 minutes of cooking to ensure they keep their shape.

You could alternatively use dry beans, although these can be much more difficult to cook. It is important that you soak your dried beans overnight, with the exception of lentils, you should also not add any acids, such as lemon juice, salt, and sugars until the end of the cooking process as this can prevent the beans from becoming tender.


You should add products such as cheese, cream cheese, milk, and sour cream within the last 60 minutes of cooking as they tend to break down over longer periods than that, which can leave you with a curdled liquid at the end of the cooking process.


Whole oats are the best option for the slow cooker, however, instant oats can be used for good results.


When it comes to pasta in the slow cooker, it is always better to cook the pasta beforehand and add it to 1 minute before the end of cooking and stir it in, as uncooked dry pasta can get extremely sticky if cooked in the slow cooker.

Types of pasta such as orzo tend to cook a little better in the slow cooker, just ensure it is added in the last hour of cooking so it doesn't turn to mush.


Rice can be put in the slow cooker for the entirety of the cooking process with great results, instant rice on the other hand should be added in the last 30 minutes of cooking as it is susceptible to turning mushy.

It's important to remember to skim any excess fat at the end of the cooking process, just before serving. Removing excess fat can make your dishes more palatable and healthier.

Can you put raw meat in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can put raw meat in your slow cooker, it is important that you ensure it is in the slow cooker for long enough to fully cook. The easiest way to check if your meat is fully cooked is to use a food thermometer, this also ensures safety. It's worth browning the outside of your beef before you put it in the slow cooker as the caramelisation of beef creates a more intense and flavourful experience, although this is not needed in some recipes.

Raw meat in slow cooker

Slow cooker safety

To make sure that your slow cooker is working efficiently and safely, ensure that your slow cooker's liquid temperature is around 85°C, if it's too high it can overcook your meat, but if it is too low the food may be unsafe to eat.

There is a temperature danger zone which is between 4°C t0 60°C, which is the optimal temperature for some dangerous microorganisms to grow, especially when this temperature is maintained for more than 3 hours.

How to make sure your slow cooker is safe

  1. First half fill your slow cooker with room temperature water, set it to low heat, and put the lid on
  2. Come back after 8 hours and use an instant-read thermometer to ensure the water is above 85°C
  3. The meal should be discarded if the temperature is below 85°C, unfortunately, slow cookers can lose efficiency over time.

Accessories for the slow cooker

Below are some great accessories out there to go with your slow cooker!

  1. Slow Cooker Liners
  2. Digital Food Thermometer
  3. Travel Bag
  4. Metal Tongs
  5. Fat Separator
  6. Meat Shredder Claws

Slow cooker recipes

If you are looking for the best slow cooker recipes check out our slow cooker handbook, which contains 20 delicious calorie-tracked slow cooker recipes, with full macro breakdowns and easy-to-follow demos!

Slow cooker handbook

What's the Best Slow Cooker to Buy?

We recommend the Crock Pot Express 12-in-1

Crock pot express


Most slow/multi-cookers are relatively bulky and can take up quite a lot of room, the Crockpot express is quite compact and takes up about as much room as a stand mixer. The main display has a clear display screen with large easy-to-read text.

The Crockpot express comes ready assembled so you don't have to worry about spending others reading a manual.

It can fit nicely on your countertop or it can be stored in a cupboard with the plug and accessories going inside the vessel.

It's very quiet when in use and the pressure release is much quieter than other models we have tried, although this does make it take slightly longer to finish the pressure release as it is controlled.

Cleaning the Crockpot express is an easy task, the vessel is non-stick so you don't have to worry about scraping it clean after every use and the vessel is also dishwasher safe. The lid is also very easy to clean.

The Crockpot express performs extremely well when cooking any dish and is definitely the best slow cooker we have ever used!


That's it for this one, keep an eye out for more blogs coming soon!

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